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Chile without mobilisations: the calm before the storm?

The Latin American country begins a year of definitions with a historic trial for a new constitution, an announced revival of popular protests in the absence of government responses to social demands, and municipal and regional elections.

 

Photo by Marcella Via

Rafael Calcines

 

A relative calm seems to reign after the enormous mobilisations that shook the country from 18th October with an unprecedented social outbreak.

Analysts warn that it could be something like the calm before the storm, and they predict that popular protests may return with renewed vigour from March, unless the government is willing to give effective responses to social demands throughout January and February.

So far, the measures implemented or announced have not changed from being stopgaps or promises that are far from satisfying the social movement.

As opposition politicians, leaders of the Social Unity Board, academics and other personalities have expressed, the government of Sebastián Piñera does not seem willing to make substantive changes to the repudiated neo-liberal model that supports the abuses and inequalities that most Chileans demand be removed.

On the other hand, it has only offered an increase in pensions which is not enough for retirees to get out of destitution, wage increases well below what the unions have demanded so that Chilean families escape poverty and nothing until now has indicated effective improvements in public health and education.

Photo: Pixabay

The social movement insists that haste has been directed only to strengthen the repressive apparatus and apply measures that criminalise popular protest and that the demands from the street are pressing.

A historical event that could mark a great turn in the future of the country is the referendum planned for 26th April, with which the population will decide if they want a new constitution and the most appropriate mechanism to reach it.

Despite the attempts of the government and the right-wing parties to mediate that process, all the polls give a resounding majority to those who want to definitively end the current fundamental law imposed at the time of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and that supports the prevailing neoliberal model.

Likewise, what’s also overwhelming is the percentage of those who are opting for a constitutional convention as a mechanism to write the new Magna Carta which, like those who propose a Constituent Assembly, is based on the popular election of one hundred percent of the constituents.

But the legitimacy of this process is not yet fully defined, since fundamental issues such as gender parity, seats reserved for native peoples and facilities for the participation of independent candidates are dependent on how the Senate votes in the coming days.

Photo by Marcella Via

If in April the majority endorses a new constitution and the mechanism of a constitutional convention, the election of delegates will take place on 25th October.

On that date, the elections for mayors, councillors and governors will also take place, the latter of which will also be a historical event, because for the first time the highest regional authorities will be chosen by popular suffrage.

This process makes the forces of all political parties tense, because their results are considered as a litmus test of what can happen in the presidential elections of 2021. (PL)

(Translated by Hannah Phelvin – Email hphelvin@gmail.com) – Photos: Pixabay

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